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PRESS RELEASE
5-19-11

EEOC Settles Sexual Discrimination Lawsuit Against Acclaim Academy

Federal Agency Says Husband of Charter School’s Director Sexually Harassed Employees

PHOENIX – A Phoenix charter school will pay $41,125 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

The EEOC’s suit alleged that Rafael Andaverde, the husband of the owner and director of ACCLAIM Charter School, doing business as ACCLAIM Academy, sexually harassed at least two female school employees. Andaverde’s illegal conduct continued even after complaints about it were made to the administration, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. ACCLAIM Charter School d/b/a ACCLAIM Academy, Case No. 2:10-cv-02102-GMS) in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona in Phoenix, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“Employees have an absolute right to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill. “There simply is no basis for tolerating such misconduct in the workplace today. Unfortunately, it continues to be a recurring problem.”

In addition to the monetary payment, the settlement includes a consent decree entered by the court which requires ACCLAIM Academy to revise policies and provide training to all employees about sex discrimination, including sexual harassment. The decree further provides that the harasser will not be hired by the school or be on premises when females or children are present. Further, all employees will also have serious warnings about the possibility of discipline if there is a recurrence of the misconduct.

ACCLAIM will also be enjoined for four years from retaliating or otherwise violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. ACCLAIM will also be required to ensure that its policies reflect the law against sex discrimination.

EEOC District Director Rayford O. Irvin said, “We will continue to vigorously pursue our mission of fighting employment discrimination on all fronts. Employers must be educated that sexual harassment in the workplace should not be tolerated. It is clearly less costly for an employer to operate within the law.”

EEOC Trial Attorney Guy Knoller added, “ACCLAIM Academy caused employees emotional distress by allowing a hostile work environment to be created and then continue. Mr. Andaverde’s conduct should have been curtailed even though he was married to the director and owner of the school.”

EEOC’s Phoenix District Office has jurisdiction for Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and part of New Mexico (including Albuquerque).

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.